RANJAN DAS GUPTA
Soma Ghosh, the adopted daughter of Bismillah Khan, has taken a liking to ghazals these days.
Soma Ghosh, ‘Manasputri’ of the shehnai maestro Bismillah Khan, has changed tracks as a singer. “I am experimenting with pure ghazals, which have a sublime and serene quality about them.”
More than two years ago, the late music legend Naushad Ali heard Soma render her jugalbandi with Ustad Bismillah Khan in Mumbai. Since then he “was desperately searching” for Soma and when a common friend introduced him to her, he requested Soma to sing pure ghazals. Soma, who has done her doctorate in classical music from Gwalior University, is now committed to prove her versatility as a singer. She says, “I have successfully rendered thumri, tappa, kajri and tori. They need profound experimenting of the voice with classical ragas. Now I am into ghazals which is not fully classical but has a classical base.”
She is currently recording an album of seven pure ghazals named ‘Main Apne Hath Se Uski Dulhan Sajaungi.’ These ghazals are based on the lyrics by renowned Pakistani shair Parveen Shakir. Says Soma, “The ghazals I sing speak about the philosophy of the life of the lyricist. They are about a lady who has been ditched by her lover. The background narration of the album will be by well known actress and poetess Deepti Naval. The music has been composed by percussionist Jabbar Bhai whose tabla bols speak volumes.”
There are two other albums Soma is also working on. They are also based on ghazals. Says Soma, “The second album is based on the theme of love. There will be seven songs in this album by upcoming shairs and the music will be composed by Vivek Prakash and Jabbar Bhai. The third one is an experimental one which speaks about the true reflections of life as I visualise. The same duo composes the music for it.”
Incidentally Vivek Prakash scored the music in English and Hindi for ‘Whispers Of Jasmine’ based on poems of former President of India, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
The President had personally requested Soma to render his poems as songs after hearing her mesmerising jugalbandi with Bismillah Khan at Rashtrapati Bhavan in 2006.
Soma is not worried about criticism that she markets Bismillah Khan’s name to gain publicity.
She boldly retorts, “He called me his daughter on his own after hearing me sing and offered to conduct jugalbandis with me. Had I wanted to market his name I would have not spent six lakhs of rupees from my own resources and produced a documentary on him ‘Yaadein Bismillah’ when no one else, not even the government, bothered to remember him. I did not make the documentary for commercial gains and have not earned anything from it. It is my tribute to my beloved father. From him I learnt romanticism is an extension of classicism and I will portray in all my ghazals.”